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Liquid water thrives beneath Mars surface - NASA

'Squirting Gun'

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NASA today unleashed its "squirting gun" by making bold claims about the presence of very liquid, very flowing water on Mars.

Photographs taken over the past seven years reveal changes in Mars' landscape that seem to indicate the presence of an underground water supply. The subsurface "water" has crept up to feed two gullies clearly visibly in the Mars pictures. While NASA has already discussed the presence of ice and water vapor in the past, it is particularly thrilled about the prospect of liquid water given that it could foster microbial life.

Scientists have long pointed to evidence such as vast channels on Mars that water once flowed on the planet. Now, however, it seems that liquid water may have been on the move in just the last few years and even today.

"We have had this story of ancient water on Mars," said Ken Edgett, a scientist with Malin Space Science Systems, during a press conference. "Today, we are talking about liquid water that is present on Mars right now.

"You have all heard of a smoking gun. (This) is a squirting gun."

You'll find NASA's images here.

As with most of NASA's squirting guns, there's little actual proof that the liquid in question is water beyond observations made by scientists. The space agency could end up sending a rover to explore the site in question or may use other probes to try and assess the chemical composition of the area for more proof of liquid water.

NASA believes that the subsurface water freezes almost immediately after reaching the surface of Mars, creating ice or salty deposits.

"These fresh deposits suggest that at some places and times on present-day Mars, liquid water is emerging from beneath the ground and briefly flowing down the slopes," said Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems. "This possibility raises questions about how the water would stay melted below ground, how widespread it might be, and whether there's a below-ground wet habitat conducive to life. Future missions may provide the answers." ®

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